As I write these words, intense winds batter my house and shake the surrounding tree-line violently.
It’s easy to downplay Mother Nature’s wrath. “We could use the rain,” I said to a gas station cashier the other day while discussing the expected arrival of Hurricane Arthur. “I really don’t think it’ll be that bad.” I said this even after watching the devastation it caused in North Carolina, not to mention the other states; even after reading news reports Arthur had caused flash flooding, downed trees and massive power outages in neighboring provinces New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Arriving home late yesterday morning, I thought I may as well make sure I’m prepared; just in case. Dug out my battery-operated transister radio, candles, flashlights, hell I even had a fridge full of beer and two-litre Coke bottles frozen with water to keep the beer cold in the event of an outage. Gotta keep the fridge going at all costs, keep that beer cold, whatever you do. Satisfied that I had everything inside taken care of, I went outside, packed away lawn chairs and battened down the hatches on the outbuildings on my waterfront acreage in PEI.
Already the trees surrounding the property were shaking violently, hissing like venomous snakes with the wind’s ferocity. Small tree branches were being ripped off trees and circling in the sky, a series of mini tornadoes. Leaves flew, birds and rabbits fled into the underbrush for protection.
I returned inside, plugged my cell phone in and went to work doing final edits on Assaulted Souls II, my latest creation and ironically a tale about survival in a post-apocalyptic nightmare. End of days stuff. An hour later, I took a break, responded to a few concerned messages from friends and family and even phoned a local writer friend and made lunch plans for next week in Charlottetown. “How are you handling the storm?” she asked.
“I’m sure I’ll be fine,” I said. “Don’t think it’ll be that bad. What are you doing today?”
“We’re not like other people,” she said. “We’re heading to the beach to see the waves.”
I returned to work. Five minutes later the house rattled violently and the power went down; no internet, water or electricity. I turned off all the computers, went outside and watched. The winds had intensified along with the blowing debris. I went inside and thought, Why not go to my beach and see the waves?
Well stupid is as stupid does. So I climbed into my SUV and proceeded down the half-mile meandering road to the waterfront. En route, trees swayed dangerously close to the vehicle, creaking and groaning, threatening to crack, break and fall down at any second on top of the vehicle, on top of me. That’s when I began to get a little nervous, a little afraid. I realized I need to show a little more healthy respect for the wrath of Mother Nature. I arrived at my coast line. The wind was ferocious even though news reports indicated it would still be five or six hours before Arthur hit landfall on PEI. I snapped a few pictures of the water, even though these waves do not do justice to the fury I felt. Suddenly I heard a loud crash and the ground shook around me. I ran to the vehicle and climbed in, noticing with raw terror a sixty-foot spruce tree, perhaps eight inches in diameter, had just come crashing down right in front of the vehicle, right in front of where I had originally thought of parking. That’s when it hit me like a speeding locomotive–You need to get home and now you idiot.
My hands were trembling, my heart was beating wildly in my chest and the adrenaline was flowing like a raging river. I beat a hasty retreat home, parked the SUV in the garage and hurried inside the house. Listening to weather reports, my transistor radio died about five minutes later and an ominous blackness descended from above. I kept up to date with family and friends, hearing helpful updates via text message, using my cell phone battery sparingly until it, too, died.
I don’t care if the news media had downgraded Hurricane Arthur to a post-tropical storm once it struck PEI, this thing was ferocious and horrifyingly powerful. My near-death experience had definitely driven that point home and reminded me of something I thought I knew; never underestimate the power of Mother Nature. Hell hath no fury like a planet scorned.
With a little help from a fridge full of Budweiser, and my good friend Robbie the Rabbit, I hunkered down in the man cave and weathered the storm. I think Robbie and I went some way to solving the world’s problems. Given a little more time, maybe a little more beer, we just might have.
And, although I don’t remember it, it appears I was pretty active during the night. I woke up this morning and the power was restored, twenty-four hours after it had gone down. I read an entertaining news story in the Xpress (it’s posted on FB) that William Blackwell, after enduring many hours of hell, performed valiantly and heroically, saving PEI’s potatoe crop. I even have a bag of spuds sitting on my kitchen table to prove it.
I read another report that William Blackwell had launched a search and rescue operation, after one of his friends had washed down the river. Leave it with me. The details will come some day. I’m sure.
But, seriously folks, Hurricane Arthur is still here, banging loudly on my aluminium screen door occasionally, battering the house and shaking the trees like crazy. But, thank God, he’s on his way out.